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    Fab North America Travel

    Nashville For First Timers

    What a Fabulous City

    Location: Nashville Tennessee USA

    Nashville for first timers

    Breakfast at Bisquit Love

    Nashville for first timers. Not what I was expecting. What a wild place – crazy, historic, loud, interesting and delicious. Nashville for first timers can be a bit of a surprise though. At least it was for me!

    Nashville for first timers

    Famous Jacks BBQ on Broadway

    My high school girl friends and I went a bit rogue this time in choosing our destination for our (almost) annual girls get away.  Nashville made the cut and eight of us put on our mud kickers and headed out for a country music weekend.

    We stayed at the Sheraton Grand Hotel. Unfortunately we didn’t realize how spread out this city is. So my first bit of advice is be prepared to need to Uber and cab it all over town. We spent a ton of money on that – big surprise there. So if you are a Nashville for first timers virgin be prepared!

    Nashville for first timers

    Visiting Antique Archeology

    The Old Town Hop On Hop Off  Trolley was a good investment though when you are doing Nashville for first timers. We bought the first day ticket for $35 and added the second day for an additional $10.  I really loved the drivers of these trolleys who gave us great history, interesting stories all served up with southern charm and humor.

    One of my favorite things we did from the Hop On Hop Off was visit the famous and historic Ryman Theatre where The Grand Ole Opry performed from for many decades. The theatre is really amazing and the tour was was interesting.

    Nashville for first timers

    Historic Ryman Theatre

    Nashville for first timers

    Nelson Greenbrier Distillery

    Also I loved our visit to the historic Marathon Motor Company building. Today it’s filled with funky shops including the Antique Archeology of American Pickers fame. Also on this same block is the Nelson Greenbrier Whiskey Distillery.  The $11 tour was really fascinating and included a tasting of four different spirits they distill.

    From the Hop on Hop Off we also found Music Row fascinating and surprising how these famous recording studios are mostly in tiny houses and not in huge skyscrapers.

    Blake Shelton’s brand new Ole Red bar on Broadway

    The Honky Tonk scene on Broadway in downtown Nashville is way crazier than I imagined. It was Las Vegas with the volumn turned up to eleven. Wild. Thousands and thousands of people, hundreds and hundreds of bars and restaurants and every single one has live music blasting all day long.

    Apparently Nashville is the number one destination in the USA for bachelorette parties. Young scantily clad brides and bridesmaid groups are whooping it up on the sidewalks, in the back of rented flatbeds and open top busses and on the cycle beer trucks. Loud and ready to party. Wow.

    Nashville for first timers

    With my friends at The Grand Ole Opry Hotel

    We took an Uber 20 minutes out to the Gaylord
    Grand Ole Opry Hotel. This is also the place where the Grand Ole  Opry now has its home. But the 3000 room hotel is a destination in itself. Again I was reminded of Vegas – ornate and over the top with waterfalls, jungles, orchids and a riverboat cruise.

    Nashville for first timers

    Country Music Hall Of Fame

    Nashville knows it’s audience and country music fans are very loyal to this town. Fans can spend hours or days at the Country Music Hall Of Fame as well as many other museums including Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, George Jones and others. Tennessee was also home to three US Presidents (Jackson, Johnson, Polk)and the area around Nashville is full of history relevant to our country.

    Nashville for first timers

    Corn Cakes at the historic Woolworth’s

    I ate a ton – everything from corn cakes to steak, hot chicken, biscuits and macaroni and cheese. Southern comfort food as well as delicious alternatives are in abundance in this town of abundance.

    You can spend a weekend or stay a week and still never see and do everything here.  It’s a great town – alive! Nashville for first timers or do it again? So much fun!

    Y’all should come now ya hear?

    Everything Else Fabulous

    We are Back

    The Weird and Wonderful World of the USA

    Location: Gig Harbor Washington USA

    And We Are Back – Adjusting to being back in the fast paced USA.

    It’s both wonderful and weird being back here.  It’s surreal and my husband and I keep looking at each other with a perplexed look – “was it always this “wired”?”  Fast paced and a bit maniacal, we haven’t felt this in a while.  But here we are and it will be like any other country we visit – spend sometime getting into the swing and then we will feel right at home.  At least the language is familiar!  Oh and the money is green – the way it should be. And there is toilet paper!! Woohoo!

    For those of you who are personal friends and family, we hope to see as many of you as possible.   Please note however that we are holding the majority of our time open for our family; particularly our aging parents and our adult children.  But we still do hope to see our friends and we have many dinners and lunches and coffees and glasses of wine already on the calendar with our dearest peeps.  But other than a quick reunion trip to both Nashville with my high school girlfriends(leaving today) and Utah (college buddies) in June, we will stay mostly on the Kitsap Peninsula during our visit.

    We are staying in the home of our friends in downtown Gig Harbor while they are off in their RV for two months.  This is from May 14-July 15.  On July 15th we move to another home in Seabeck to be a closer to Arne’s family for our final three weeks.  We depart the USA again on August 7th and plan to be away this time for nine to ten months. More on that later.

    But for now we try to catch our breath, squeeze our loved ones, and remember to drive on the right hand side of the road!

    So hello USA, Washington, Kitsap Peninsula and Gig Harbor.  Hello, Susaday, Hafa Adai, Apa Kabar, Kihineh, Sabaidi, Swasdi, G’Day, Zdraveite, Zdravo, Xin Chao, Namaste, Chomreabsuro, Vanakkam, Is-Slama, Om suastiastu, Huh-low, Ssalamu, Sawubona, Salam-Alai Kum, Bom Dia, Bon Jour, Kia Ora, Hola, ‘Lekum, Aloha. Hello!

    Fabulous Reading Wednesday

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Still Water by Viveca Sten

    Location: Book Review

    Book Review Still Water buy Viveca Sten

    About a month ago Kindle offered a special incentive in honor of International Day.  Kindle made available a half dozen books by international authors for free.  I downloaded most of them to my Kindle App on my phone, which is where I read most of my books.  

    I was not familiar with Swedish author Viveca Sten.  I’ve since learned of her popular Sandhaam Island Murder Mysteries, of which Still Water was the first.  I liked this book, did not love it, but am curious to possibly read one of her later novels to see if her writing improved over the years.  She is a good writer, but this book had some lengthy descriptive paragraphs and a few incidents (including one at the very end of the book involving a boat full of drunk teenagers) that to me, in no way enhanced the story or even fit the tale.  A good editor should have cut some of this out to tighten the book up.

    Granted, this book was originally written in Swedish and perhaps something was lost in the translation.

    I sound more critical than I mean to, because I actually enjoyed the story and I was intrigued to find out “whodunnit” in the murder mystery story.  Near the end I knew who it would be, but it still held my attention and I enjoyed the read.

    The story is based in the Swedish Archipelago on Sandhaam Island a place I have always wanted to visit.  Somewhat  like the Martha’s Vineyard of Sweden, old families have handed down homes here for generations, including the family of Nora one or the lead characters in the book.  Thomas, a police officer and her childhood best friend becomes involved in a murder investigation when a man’s body washes up on the beach one summer day.  All the residents on Sandhaam including Nora become involved in trying to solve the mystery. Thus unfolds a tale of family secrets, murder and mystery,  rocky marriages, love and loss and then several more murders, suicides and deaths. Phew! A lot happens. Eventually the story pulls the pieces together and mystery is solved. 

    I did not love the way the book ended, as it left some things hanging, although I expect that is because Sten continues the Sandhaam series and ties loose ends together in the next book.

    A quick and easy read, not the best I’ve ever read but I still give Still Waters three stars.

     

    Fabulous Reading Wednesday

    Reading Wednesday

    What I Have Read Over the 18 Months Abroad

    I’ve had a great deal of time to read over the past year and a half.  I enjoy reading very much and the Grand Adventure has offered me a wonderful opportunity to read more than ever before.  I started a list of the books I read and after nearly a year set my sights on finishing 100 books before we returned to the United States.

    I almost made it.  I read 93 books in 18 months.  Almost all (not all but almost) of these books I reviewed in the Reading Wednesday series on this blog.  I didn’t start Reading Wednesday until after we had been traveling for a few months, and since then it has become one of the most popular features on My Fab Fifties Life blog.  That makes me happy.

    I doubt I will be reading as much during my two and half months in the USA because I will be busy with family matters.  But I still have some books I haven’t reviewed so hopefully I can continue to review one book per week and you can continue to enjoy the weekly reviews.  Meanwhile, if you are interested, I have listed below all 93 books and the ones that have been reviewed are highlighted in green if you would like to go to that review on the blog just click on the link.  I’ve also put a gold star by some of my all time favorites!!

    Happy Reading everyone!  Reading is Fabulous!

    1. Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner

    2. Bangkok Secret by Anthony Gray

    3. Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben

    4. Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

    5. Today will be Different by Maria Simple

    6. The Mothers by Brit Bennett

    7. The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

    8. I’ll Take You There by Wally Lamb

    9. ⭐These is My Words by Nancy Turner

    10.⭐ 97 Orchard Street by Jane Ziegelman

    11. Lady Susan by Jane Austin

    12. The Secret History by Donna Tartt

    13. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

    14. The Turner House by Angela Flournoy

    15. Tulip Fever by Deborah Muggach

    16. ⭐Michlings by Affinity Konar

    17. Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance

    18. Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

    19. War of the Worlds by HG Wells

    20. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

    21. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

    22. In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson

    23. The Girls by Emma Cline

    24. Broken Verses by Kamila Shamsie

    25. Swingtime by Zadie Smith

    26. Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

    27. ⭐Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

    28. Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

    29. The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis

    30. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

    31. Thank you for Being Late by Thomas Friedman

    32. Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

    33. ⭐Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

    34. A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

    35. The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

    36. Dirty Chicks by Antonia Murphy

    37. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman

    38.⭐ Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

    39. News of the World by Paulette Giles

    40. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

    41. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

    42. A 1000 Acres by Jane Smiley

    43. H is for Hawk by Helen McDonald

    44. A Twist of the Knife by Becky Masterson

    45. The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin

    46. The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy

    47. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

    48. The Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Allameddine

    49. The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

    50. The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

    51. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

    52.⭐ The Paris Wife by Paula McLean

    53. The Sun Also Rises Ernest Hemingway

    54. Al Franken Giant of the Senate by Al Franken

    55. The Lady in the Van by Alan Bennett

    56. Human Acts by Han Kang

    57. The Zookeepers Wife by Angela Workman

    58. After the Fall by Charity Normal

    59. A Moveable Feast Ernest Hemingway

    60. Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles

    61. ⭐The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

    62. ⭐The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

    63. The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

    64. Circling the Sun by Paula McLean

    65. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

    66. A Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell

    67. The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay

    68. The Rent Collector by Camron Wright

    69.⭐ The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows

    70. Star Dust by Neil Gaiman

    71. The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

    72. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards

    73. Counting by Sevens by Holly Goldberg Sloan

    74. ⭐My Antonia by Willa Cather

    75.⭐ Elinor Oiliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

    76. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

    77. A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

    78. Sing Unburried Sing by Jesmyn Ward

    79. Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

    80. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

    81. ⭐Station Eleven by Emily Saint John Mandel

    82. Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

    83. The Girl Before by JP Delaney

    84. The Maze Runner by

    85. Still Water by Viveca Sten

    86. The Light of the Firefly by Paul Pen

    87. A River in the Darkness

    88. The Question of Red

    89. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

    90. The Rapture of Canaan by Sherri Reynolds

    91. Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris

    92. Neverhome by Laird Hunter

    93. Delicious Food  by James Hannaham

    Fabulous Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Girl Before

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Book Review

    Book Review The Girl Before by JP Delaney

    First I have to preface this review with a question.  Why do so many books lately have the word GIRL in the title?  My husband has mentioned this to me several times.  Gone Girl.  Girl on the Train.  Lilac Girls.  The Girl Before.

    For me the real question is why use the word girl when you are really talking about women?  Is it crazy?  Maybe but it bothers me.

    So as long as I’m talking about things that bother me, let me tell you about the book The Girl Before, by JP Delaney.  I had read a review that likened this book to Gone Girl.  No way.  It takes an incredibly talented writer to pull off a book like Gone Girl – leading the reader down a path unsuspectingly and then WHAM!  That brilliant writing is what made Gone Girl such a runaway best seller.

    Not so much with The Girl Before, although Delaney makes an effort to create a plot with twists and turns and surprises.  I can compare this book more accurately to The Girl on the Train.  I wasn’t a big fan of The Girl on the Train (I think I was the only one) as it felt too predictable to me.  This is exactly how I felt reading The Girl Before.

    The plot follows two separate women who during separate times, live in the same house – a house unlike any other, built by an eccentric architect and created to be austere and state of the art.  Both women become romantically entangled with the  architect and both find the house closing in on them.

    One women will die.

    The cause of death, in the house, of the first women is never solved and the second women becomes obsessed with learning the truth.  Along the way a tale of a sociopath, pathological liars, obsessive compulsive behavior, sexual addiction, stalking and murder unfold.

    Sometimes this book also made me think of Fifty Shades of Grey, although not as sexually graphic.  I didn’t care for that book either.

    So I guess I really struggled with this story – a book trying to be a lot of things – trying to mimic other successful books – but never very successfully and never finding its own place.

    Two Stars for The Girl Before by JP Delaney

    Everything Else Fabulous

    Cruising Then and Now

    Many Changes in Cruising Since our First Cruise 26 Years Ago

    Location: Onboard Explorer of the Seas

    When we booked the cruise we are on, we were under the false assumption that repositioning cruises were not all that popular.  That could not be farther from the truth.  This 23 day cruise has been interesting to say the least.  We have learned a lot about the world of cruise fanatics and cruise loyalty.

    At the pool. There are three pools.

    Onboard this ship are people who love to cruise.  I call them serial cruisers. I over heard one women bragging that this was her 83rd cruise.  It’s very clear from people we have met that cruising for the majority of these hard-core cruise junkies is all about being on the ship and very little about the destinations.  It’s also clear that most the people on the ship are loyal to Royal Caribbean and their frequent cruiser programs.  Royal Caribbean family if you will.

    Lunch at the buffet

    Eighty Three cruises?  No thanks.  I enjoy cruising but only every few years and certainly never feel like I can really get to know a destination with only 8 hours in port.  But on this cruise I am clearly in the minority – in more ways than one.  I frequently mention how often Arne and I find we are older than other travelers  meet. Not on this ship. Not even close.

    It’s been 26 years since I took my first cruise, a Caribbean seven-day cruise out of Puerto Rico.  I’ve now done a total of nine cruises, nowhere near

    Kitchen prep in the galley

    the number of some of the people onboard with us on the Explorer of the Seas.  But averaging one cruise every three years I have seen some very clear changes in the industry of cruising since that first one long ago.  Not only has the industry of cruising changed, but cruising has changed the world.  Places like Venice Italy, Dubrovnik Croatia and Juneau Alaska now scramble to deal with the influx of visitors and the changes, often negative, that cruise ships and cruise passengers can cause.

    From a guests perspective, I have observed the following significant changes in 26 years;

    Daily towell animals in our room 

    Service on board – my first cruise was a dream because of the phenomenal service we received from every staff person onboard but most especially from our room steward and our dining room wait staff.

    Today the staff on board the mega cruise ships are great, but they are clearly overworked and the service is good, often very good, but never to the level of that first cruise I took those many years ago.  It’s clear the service staff is responsible for more guests now than back then, but also some of the lower level of service might be as a result of the pre-paid gratuity.  Our early cruises were back in the day when you handed cash to your wait staff and your room steward at the end of the cruise.  Your choice of gratuity was dependent on the service they provided.  Today, most cruises (most but not all) do a prepaid 18% gratuity when you sign up for your cruise.  Of course the staff knows this.

    Dessert in the main dining room

    Little things have changed in the dining room to create less work for the staff at the expense of the guest.  They used to come around to the table with your salad dressing choices and spoon it directly on your salad for you.  Now you take what they give you.  There used to be a wine steward who would come around and discuss wine choices with you and regions and styles of wine.  On this cruise we are on there has not been a wine steward anywhere in sight.

    Windows getting washed

    Once upon a time the midnight buffet was a highlight of your day and usually included a spectacular ice sculpture.  Since the ships now all have a full-time buffet in addition to the regular dining room, the midnight buffet has disappeared and along with it the entertaining spectacle it always was. 

    The atrium

    Back in the day the cruise line did not nickel and dime you for every little thing.  Today a cup of coffee is free, but not an espresso or a latte.  You also no longer get soda for free.  It used to be only alcohol was extra.  No longer.  In fact you used to enjoy a lobster dinner one night on each cruise but today it’s an extra $35 if you want lobster.  Today you pay extra for “speciality dinning” and even room service has a service charge.  We used to order room service breakfast and enjoy it on our balcony.  But anything “cooked” is a charge so the only breakfast you can get from room service for free is cereal and fruit and coffee.

    Today you have to sign away your first-born before you can get a pool towel, and if it’s not returned by the end of the cruise you will be charged $25 per towel.

    Shore excursions have always been expensive and we avoid doing them most of the time.  The cost has risen extensively over the years and rarely does the cost equal the value.

    Enjoying formal night

    On our first few cruises there wasn’t even a spa or a gym.  I remember running or walking on the promenade deck as exercise.  Today you aren’t allowed to run on the promenade deck because it will make noise in the rooms below.  The new ships have a running track, but it’s nine laps for one mile so you feel a bit like a hamster.  On our first cruise I remember doing morning aerobics class in the dining room and they just pushed the tables and chairs out-of-the-way.  On our first few cruises there was a ‘beauty parlor” but no spa.  Today the spa and fitness center make big bucks for the cruise lines and there is a constant push to buy products that will change your skin, your fitness and your life – at exorbitant prices of course.  In fact this is the first cruise we have been on where we had to pay for certain fitness classes.  Some classes are free still, but the very popular spinning class and yoga class will cost $12.

    Leaving Sydney Harbour

    Twenty-six years ago our first cruise was on a smaller ship than the one we are on now (3500 passengers) and there was only one dinner seating.  You also had a lunch and breakfast seating.  Today most of the time the dining room is closed for breakfast and lunch except on at sea days and you take your breakfast and lunch in the buffet.  I remember on one cruise there was a special evening with a midnight buffet served in the ships galley.  It was a wonderful way to see the sparkling clean kitchen and how the crew prepares so much food for so many guests for so many days.

    In fact, on several early cruises we took “behind the scenes” tours of the galley and the bridge.  Today it will cost you $89 to take the two-hour tour and see the inner workings of the Explorer of the Sea.

    Celebrating the moment we crossed the equator

    Long before we ever did our first cruise we were in the Bahamas in 1982.  Our friends who had just gotten married were on a cruise and in port so we hooked up and actually went on board as guests to see the ship.  That would never happen today.  The ships are very tight with security and just like at the airport you are screened and your bags are scanned each and every time you leave or come back on  board.  There are absolutely no guests.  In addition the cruise lines now make a big push about cleanliness, sanitation and hand washing in an effort to eliminate the dreaded norovirus and other fast spreading viruses on a ship with so many people.

    Today’s ships are spectacular floating cities and many serial cruisers are more interested in what ship they are on and not the destination.  We have met many people who don’t even get off the ship in port.  They love cruising and being on board more than the ports of call.  

    Vanuatu

    These floating cities today have wonderful entertainment staff who make sure there is something for you to do every minute of every day.  If that is what you want.  Throughout the ship there are bars and music, bingo and trivia, lectures and movies, dancing and pool games and of course the nightly entertainment.  They nightly entertainment has improved tremendously over our years of cruising.  On our very first cruise there was no theater.  Instead there was a nightly show in the lounge.  The entertainment was very old-fashioned and for Arne and I (in our early thirties) laughable.  I remember one night was a harmonica player.  Seriously.

    The Palace Theatre

    Today the big ships with their big theaters put on big show, with outstanding singers, dancers, costumes and sets.  Royal Caribbean still maintains a live orchestra as part of the shows (few other cruise lines do).  In addition our cruise has included a visiting performers who presented a fabulous program of “Queen” songs, a vocalist from Australia, an impressionist from the UK, as well as a pianist, a comedian and a hypnotist.  All professional and very entertaining.  And there isn’t is an ice rink on board with its in cast and performances. Amazing  Such an improvement over the old days.  Now if the cruise lines start charging for guests to enjoy the shows then I will probably give up cruising all together.

    Embarkation day in Sydney

    Still on average, cruising is a very inexpensive way to travel.  This 23 day cruise works out to be around $130 per person per day.  That is $30 per person over our daily budget goal, but we can justify because of other places we have traveled where we were way under budget.  It’s easy to see why so many people choose to only travel this way; unpack once, everything is done for you, relatively safe and definitely all the comforts of home.  I suspect we will cruise again  (in fact going with Arne’s Mom on the Panama Canal next year) but it will never be the only way we travel.  There are just too many off the beaten track places to see, and you can’t possibly see them from a ship.  But to each his own.  

    We have enjoyed our time aboard the Explorer of the Sea.  Now it’s time to enjoy being back in the USA.

    Everything Else Fabulous

    What’s in My Suitcase? My Travel Favorites

    What I Won’t Leave Home Without

    Location: In My Suitcase

    When we head off again in August for another year of travel our suitcase will not look the same as when we left the first time 18 months ago.  We have learned what works, what doesn’t and what are our favorite things.  So here are some of my travel favorites in my suitcase.

    Battery Power Pack – possibly our most used and most valuable item. Mophie is the brand we have and we spent $40 on it. We use it everyday  it fits in a purse or pocket and holds a charge for several days. Definitely one of my travel favorites in my suitcase.

    Packing cubes – not sure how I traveled all those years without packing cubes because they are now my best friend.  Especially as a fulltime traveler it’s so great to keep kinds of clothes and other items categorized in my suitcase.

    Cooler – our collapsible portable lunchbox size Igloo cooler was a gift from our niece and it is just perfect for our travel life, picnics and beach days.   We have even used it to keep things (Mayo, cheese, eggs) cold as we traveled by car from one lodging to the next. A very handy item and portable and one of my travel favorites in my suitcase.

    Ice pack – purchased for $2 this ice pack fits perfect in our little cooler and really changed the way we travel.  Such a simple item with a big impact.

    Freezer Bags and trash bags – with endless uses for storage and packing we have used gallon size freezer bags and kitchen size trash bags to keep things dry, to keep things wet, to organize, to protect and to store. From wet shoes to dirty clothes and olive oil to medicines plastic bags make our life easier.

    Notecards and post it notes – having a package of notecards with envelopes and post-it notes has come in handy. I like to leave notes for our Airbnb hosts or tuck notes in a package I’m mailing or a multitude of other uses these small and simple items are one of my travel favorites in my suitcase.

    Packing tape – our roll of packing tape has done a lot more than wrap up boxes.  We used it to fix a splintered iPhone cord and to make a cardboard sleeve for our butcher knife. We repaired a book binding and even a hat.

    Clothes pens – I initially packed these to use on the Camino but they have come in handy in so many ways.  As hangers when we don’t have any, to secure and close bags, to hold back mosquito netting on beds and to of course hang our laundry.

    Manicure kit – it’s not always easy to find a place to have a manicure, and I’ve learned over the years I need to care frequently for my nails or they get cracked and nasty.  So I carry a small manicure kit that serves my needs while on the road.  It takes no room at all and is one of my travel favorites in my suitcase.

    Scrabble – since leaving the USA in November 2016 we have played more than 400 games of Scrabble. Wow that sounds crazy!  But we love the game and the only problem is we are now both really good at it and we find ourselves occasionally in a bit of a stalemate!

    Noise cancelling headphones – this is Arne’s Favorite item on this list.  We both have Bose headphones we use on the plane. Arne also uses his sometimes to listen to music off his iPad or watch movies.  He votes this as his travel favorite in his suitcase.

    French Press – we added a French Press about half way and it recently broke BUT we love having one and will be getting another.  Almost all the places we stay have a hot water pot and we love to make French Press each morning instead of drinking the usual Nescafé.  Traveling with a French Press is one of my travel favorites in my suitcase.

    Foldaway daypack – A few months into our journey we added this item and have used it a ton. It folds up into a little square but when open it is perfect for hikes or city walks when we want to carry a sweater, beach towels, water or just about anything for the day.

    There are things we have been carrying that we don’t plan to include any longer. This includes our kitchen knives, chess board, hiking poles, chamois towel and our giant toilette bag.  I plan to buy a smaller toilette bag and force myself to carry less.

    I’ll hold on to a few tried and true clothing items but plan to throw out many things and replace them with new, Comfy, loose-fitting clothes in mix and match colors.  I clearly know what works and what doesn’t now,  and I think I can bring fewer items while feeling like I have more.  It’s a challenge I am looking forward to.

    What’s in my suitcase? My travel favorites, the bare necessities and the tried and true.

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